5. Walls That Talk: A Guide to Carcassonne’s Ancient Basilica
If you thought ancient churches were just boring old buildings, this walking tour will surprise you. And, depending on how much you know about Christianity, it might positively shock you. On this self-guided tour of the Basilica of Saints Nazairius and Celsus, you’ll discover the truth behind the development of Western Christianity, and learn how one faction imposed its own version of orthodoxy on people by forcibly converting them and exterminating rival sects. Our tour starts outside the spectacular must-see basilica known as Basilique Saint Nazaire et Saint Celse, located in the ancient Cité de Carcassonne. I’ll guide you around the church’s interior and you’ll find out how it was re-categorised from cathedral to basilica, and learn the difference between the two. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to: • Uncover the mystery of what really happened to Joan of Arc • Share a moment with a painting of a "Veronica" • Learn why, for centuries, it was not possible to be baptised in a church • Hear about the death, burial and exhumation of Simon de Montfort here • Admire some of the oldest and most beautiful stained glass and rose windows in Southern France, as well as a depiction of The Tree of Jesse • Learn how to identify statues of Catholic Saints and Martyrs • Understand the differences between Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and learn to identify Southern French Gothic style • Ponder the origin of early Christianities, and the evolution of their doctrines • Find out what happened during the Crusade against the Cathars, why there is a memorial here to a known Cathar sympathiser, and how Cathar beliefs influenced medieval Catholicism • Learn about the Occitan culture in this area, before it became French • Appreciate spectacular architecture, while adding some exotic architectural terms to your vocabulary • Understand why Pope Urban II came here in 1096, when he blessed the stones of the Romanesque cathedral • Search for the owls sitting on the branches of the Tree of Life in the Chapel of the Holy Cross On this 120-minute tour of Cité de Carcassonne’s basilica, I’ll share the secrets hidden in the cracks of this ancient building, which echo far beyond its walls. This is decidedly not the Sunday School version of history. By the end of our walk, I hope you’ll feel enlightened by tis entertaining yet academically rigorous telling of the Christian doctrine’s fascinating history.